New Year's Eve Decor & Menu Ideas

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

If you're looking to throw a new year's eve party and need inspiration,
I've gathered a few ideas and solutions for you. Take a look:

New Year's Decor

1. Use what you have at hand, such as glasses and candles to create a nice atmosphere.

2. You don't need to go all crazy with decor - a simple and elegant banner can do the tricky
and also a few balloons too.

3. Keep the menu simple and easy. Below are some suggestions and recipes.
Here's a menu idea for your New Year's Eve party:
Cranberry-Pear Sparkler 

Have fun and Happy New Year!

Playing Dress Up: New Year's Eve Look

I'm always going nuts on what to wear for new year's eve every year. I never know what to wear or what to pick for the occasion and I always need help. I would love to wear a gorgeous dress this year and also would love to pick from this color scheme: champagne, cream, silver or white. I think these colors really represent the new year, what do you think? Would you love to wear one of these beautiful dresses? I would!
New Year's Looks
What are you planning to wear this new year's eve? and what color?

My Segment on PA Live! at WBRE-TV

Monday, December 30, 2013

More than a week ago, I'd the opportunity to show and demonstrate a recipe and talk about some gluten free products on live TV. I was very excited but incredibly nervous and couldn't even crack a smile for the life of me, but it was a great experience and everyone at PA Live! at WBRE was very nice and welcoming. 

Here are some behind the scenes shots: the set, prepping for my segment and I also got a shot with Brittany Sweeney - the show's co-host. 

For my segment, I shared a gluten-free guava muffin recipe
and talked about a few different products.
Take a look:

Christmas Recap...

Friday, December 27, 2013

I hope you'd a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends. As usual, 
I hosted a Christmas Eve dinner for my family and friends. It was a wonderful
day and evening, I spent the day cooking all the dishes, setting the table and the
kids spent the day watching movies and playing with each other. Take a look:

I realized that I didn't do a post with the Christmas decorations from our home, so I decided to
share a few with you. Mostly of our decor incorporated silver and gold, except for the stockings 'cause they were the only cute ones I was able to find but it didn't bother me.

The kids had fun opening a few gifts on Christmas eve and loved it!

I shared throughout the day a few photos on Instagram (@sweetcarolinie - you can follow along if you desire). 
1. It started to snow on Christmas eve, it was a white Christmas after all. 
2. The kids favorite movie nowadays is the Polar Express, I can't count how many times they've seen it. 3. I made a delicious brown sugar and mustard glaze to go over a baked ham. 
4. The true meaning of Christmas.
5. Family tradition: making gingerbread house with the kids on Christmas day.

And how was your Christmas eve and day?

Christmas Series: Panettone Tiramisu

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

We eat a lot of panettone during the holiday season, it's a tradition in our household. I made this panettone tiramisu dessert for our Christmas eve dinner and my family really enjoyed it, so if you've extra left over panettone in your home, this is a great way to use it! I used a traditional panettone for this but you can find a variety of panettone with different flavors in the markets now, just use one that you really like it. Take a look:

Recipe by Mais Você - Ana Maria Braga

Ingredients (serves 6):
3 egg yolks
1 egg
6 tablespoons sugar
10 oz mascarpone cheese or cream cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 regular size panettone, cut into cubes
1/2 cup strong coffee, cooled

In a bowl; add the egg yolks, egg and sugar, beat until creamy for at least 5 minutes. Add mascarpone cheese or cream cheese and beat well to combine. In another bowl, beat the heavy cream with a hand electric mixer until peaks form, add the whipped heavy cream to the other bowl with the cream and combine, set it aside. Meanwhile, arrange the cubes of panettone in a baking sheet and lightly toast them in the oven. Remove from oven and let it cool slightly. To assemble the dessert: add strong coffee to a small dish, dip a few panettone pieces at time in the coffee and place them in the bottom of a serving glass and add the cream, repeat the layers into it reaches the top but always finish with the cream. Garnish with cocoa powder, refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Enjoy!

And this marks the end of our
Christmas Series

Christmas Series: Glittery Cookies

Saturday, December 21, 2013

My family loves these cookies and it never last too long in our household 'cause they're simply delicious! The dough is made with cream cheese and it makes the best cookies ever, I'm not lying. These are also perfect to give as gifts to neighbors, friends and family. Just wrap it nicely in a clear plastic bag and tie it with a nice colorful ribbon. Take a look:

Recipe by Everyday with Rachael Ray

Cream Cheese Cookie Dough
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoon flour
edible gold glitter or colorful sanding sugar

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar on high speed for 3 minutes. Add the vanilla extract, egg yolk and slat and mix at low speed until blended. Mix in the flour at low speed until incorporated. Halve the dough; pat into 2 disks. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment. On a floured surface, roll out 1 piece of dough 1/4 inch thick, dusting with flour if the dough sticks. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter, cut out cookies and transfer to the prepared pans. Gather the dough scraps and knead into a disk. Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes before rolling out more cookies. Sprinkle the cookies with the gold glitter. Bake until the edges are golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Using a thin metal spatula, transfer the cookies to racks to cool. Repeat with the remaining dough and glitter. Serve and enjoy!

Stay tuned for more recipes!
Christmas Series

Christmas Series: Naked Red Velvet Cake with Berries

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I made this simple, easy and delicious cake for my birthday and everyone really liked, I also think you can serve this during the holidays too. I used a little help from a box of cake mix, but if you've the time to make it from scratch, you're more the welcomed to try. I'm sure it'll be delicious either way. Take a look:

Recipe by Sweet Caroline

1 box of red velvet cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
4.4 oz fresh blueberries
6 oz fresh raspberries
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup powdered sugar, more for dusting
10 oz cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prepare the cake mix according with the box directions and ingredients. Bake into 2 (8 inch pan, buttered and lined with parchment paper) according to package directions, once the cakes are baked, let it cool completely. Meanwhile, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form, add the powdered sugar, softened cream cheese and vanilla extract, beat well. Refrigerate cream until ready to assemble cake. Remove cake from pan, remove parchment paper. Place the cake on a stand, top side facing down. Spread a nice amount of cream on top, sprinkle half of the blueberries and raspberries. Place the other cake, top facing down. Add the remaining cream, sprinkle the rest of the berries evenly. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve and enjoy! 

Stay tuned for more recipes!
Christmas Series

Christmas Series: Table Decor

I love to set the table to create a nice atmosphere for dinner time and Christmas couldn't be any different. I love choosing the decor, plates, utensils, glasses, napkins and the color theme. Below I chose some color schemes that I think are perfect for Christmas; gold, silver and red! add a few pine cones, candles, vases and candy canes to complete the decor, just get creative!

Christmas Table Decor

Have fun decorating and setting your Christmas table!
Christmas Series

Christmas Series: Cranberry-Pear Sparkler

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I recently created this drink to serve to my family at my birthday gathering and it was a hit, everyone really enjoyed it. I think it's a perfect drink to serve at the holiday parties and get togethers too. Take a look:

Recipe by Sweet Caroline

2 liters ginger ale, chilled
1 (25.4 oz) sparkling pear juice, chilled
1 (32 oz) cranberry juice cocktail, chilled
Garnish with fresh cranberries and pear slices (optional)

In a large pitcher or beverage dispenser, combine ginger ale, sparkling pear juice and cranberry juice cocktail. Mix to combine, garnish with fresh cranberries and pear slices if you desire. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Stay tuned for more recipes!
Christmas Series

I Can't Believe I'm 30!

Monday, December 16, 2013

On Sunday I celebrated my 30th birthday which I can't believe, it seems like my 20s just flashed before my eyes! I'm extremely grateful and thankful to God for the life He gave me and for blessing me more than I deserve. I'm happy to be able to celebrate another year of my life, I've so many wonderful blessings, especially my family. Being a wife and mother are the best gifts that I've ever received!

To celebrate my birthday, I decided to celebrate at home since the day before snowed quite a bit and I didn't want to leave the house. I made a fairly simple lunch for my family and I even made my very own birthday cake (it was delish!).

I made a naked red velvet cake with berries, a cranberry-pear sparkler drink and a few marshmallow pops. It wasn't fancy but fairly simple and I loved it! 

Well, happy birthday to me and welcome 30s!

Christmas Series: A Gift in a Jar (Recipe & DIY)

Friday, December 13, 2013

I attended the Maker Monday event this past Monday at the library and Miss Allyson Urie taught us how to make a fun and creative holiday gift, a gift in a jar. The idea is super simple and easy but it makes a wonderful and beautiful homemade gift, she shared a delicious soup recipe. Take a look:

Photos by Albright Memorial Library

Soup in a Jar
1/2 cup dry split peas
1/3 cup beef bouillon granules
1/4 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup dried lentils
1/4 cup dried Italian seasoning
1/2 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup uncooked alphabet pasta

In a 1 1/2 pint jar, layer the split peas, bouillon, barley, lentils, onion flakes, Italian seasoning, rice and bay leaves. Wrap the pasta in plastic wrap and place in the jar. Seal tightly. Decorate jar as you like it and attach *label (instructions below).

(Photos by Sweet Caroline)

* Attach a label to the jar with the following instructions:

Friendship Soup
Additional ingredients:
1 pound ground beef
Black pepper to taste
Garlic powder to taste
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes - undrained
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
3 quarts water

To prepare soup:
Remove pasta from top of jar, set aside. In a large pot over medium heat, brown beef with pepper and garlic; drain excess fat. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, water and soup mix. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover, and simmer fro 45 minutes. Stir in the pasta, cover, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pasta, peas, lentils and barley are tender.

Stay tuned for more recipes!
Christmas Series

Christmas Series: Quick Cinnamon Bread

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I love warm cinnamon bread with a nice hot cup of tea, especially this time of the year. This bread is so easy, delicious and a perfect gift to give to neighbors or friends during the holidays. Just wrap it nicely and tie it with a colorful ribbon. Take a look:

Recipe by Sweet Caroline

1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
4 teaspoons baking powder
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
A pinch of salt
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon and salt. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, oil and vanilla extract. Pour into dry ingredients and stir to combine just until moistened. Pour batter into a buttered 8" x 4" loaf pan.
In a small dish, combine 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, sprinkle evenly over the batter. Use a knife to create swirls to marble the mixture into the batter. Bake for 50-55 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan. Serve and enjoy!

Stay tuned for more recipes!
Christmas Series

Operation Smile

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Operation Smile is a charity organization for children  donate non profit

Operation Smile is an amazing international children's medical charity, their focus is to change and help lives by giving every child a chance to smile. Operation smile provides and performs free effective surgeries to repair cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities for children around the globe.

Children born with a cleft are often unable to eat, speak, socialize or smile, and many parents can't afford surgeries costs. That's where Operation Smile comes into action by helping provide surgeries for these children and improve their quality of life and giving them a chance to smile!

I love when people work together to improve the lives of others and I love what Operation Smile does, that's why I've decided once again to join because for every book rented, they'll donate a portion of the proceeds directly to Operation Smile. If you're looking for college books for you or for someone in your family, just head over to and add that extra book to your cart, you'll helping lives too!

Here's what offers:
-Free shipping both ways
-Save 40-90% off of bookstores prices
-Can highlight in the textbooks
-Flexible renting periods
-RentBack - is new initiative that allows students to rent the textbooks they own to other students!

And how it works:

For more information about Operation Smile and other ways to donate, visit their site.

Christmas Series: Bow Tie Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Spinach Cream Sauce (a.k.a. Christmas Pasta)

Monday, December 9, 2013

I call this my festive Christmas pasta since it's December and soon it'll be Christmas time which I can't believe how fast the year has gone by! Anyways, the colors (red and green) on this dish also reminds me of this time of the year and the little bow tie pasta reminds of the well dressed up parties. Like I said before: festive! And the dish is really delish too! Take a look:

Recipe by Sweet Caroline

1 lb. bow tie pasta
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 white onion, diced
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and black pepper

In a large pot, add enough water and bring to a boil. Salt the water and add pasta, cook pasta until al dente; drain. Meanwhile, drain the sun-dried tomatoes and reserve oil. Heat a couple tablespoons of reserved oil in a large pan over medium/high heat. Add garlic and onion and sauté until onions are translucent. Add sun-dried tomatoes and let it cook for about a minute. Add the heavy cream and bring to a boil. Cook until lightly thickened, season with salt and black pepper. Add spinach and once it's wilted, add grated parmesan cheese and cooked pasta, toss really well. Serve hot and enjoy!

Stay tuned for more recipes!
Christmas Series

Glittery White Hot Chocolate

Thursday, December 5, 2013

December is by far my favorite month, it's so festive! Besides from the fact that my birthday is coming up soon, I also love to decorate the house for Christmas, bake tons of cookies, give gifts to family and friends and make our annual holiday card, of course. I was so happy to find this beautiful Saintly Strips card from TinyPrints, I love the color combination of gold and silver glitter since it matches perfectly with our house decor and theme for this year. 

In our household, we drink a lot of hot chocolate during this season and I was inspired by the card to make a glittery white hot chocolate to celebrate. Take a look:

Recipe by Sweet Caroline

Ingredients (serves 2-3):
4 ounces of white chocolate, chopped
1 3/4 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped cream
Edible gold glitter

In a small sauce pan over medium/low heat, add the chopped white chocolate and milk, bring to simmer (don't let it boil). Keep stirring until the chocolate is completely melted, remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract. Pour into mugs, serve with whipped cream and edible gold glitter. Enjoy!

Pear & Cheddar Panini

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pear and cheddar is such a flavorful and perfect combination. I love the sweet from the pear and honey with the melted sharp cheddar cheese and the crusty bread. Take a look:

1 tablespoon honey
2 slices multi grain bread
Few thin slices of Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar
Few thin slices of pear or apple

Pre heat panini press. Spread honey over bread slices. Place pear slices on bread, top with cheese slices and add the other bread slice. Spread butter the top bread. Place the butter side down on panini press and spread butter on the other bread slice. Cook for about 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Serve and enjoy!

Green Juice: Pomegranate, Kale & Orange Juice

Friday, November 29, 2013

I've been eating a lot of pomegranates for the past few weeks and I try to incorporate into everything. It's so delicious, crunchy and healthy too! To kick start my morning in the right note I always start off with a delicious green juice and this is perfect after eating too much at Thanksgiving dinner the day before, take a look:

Recipe by Sweet Caroline

1 cup chopped kale
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup orange juice
3-4 ice cubes

Put everything into a blender, blend until completely smooth.

What I'm Thankful For...(Link Up Party)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thankful Link Up

This year I'm joining again these beautiful ladies: Julie of Julie Ann Art, Lenora of Yellow Heart Art and Erika of Rouge & Whimsy for a link-up party to share what I'm most thankful about this season.
I can't express enough how much I'm thankful and grateful for my family. This year was full of ups and downs, full of joy and battles but we made it through and we made it together. I thank God for blessing me and my life with such amazing individuals! (I'm going to stop right here 'cause otherwise I'm going to burst with tears. of happiness, of course!)

I'm thankful for all the opportunities and blessings that have been presented to me.
Hopefully I'll get share few with of them with all of you soon.

 I'm thankful for the wonderful grandparents my kids have! 

I'm thankful for the awesome and sweet auntie my kids have!
My sister and best friend!

I'm thankful for love.
I'm thankful for the sweet little things in life.
I'm thankful for all the moments.
I'm thankful for God's blessings and his unconditional love
for all of us.

What are you thankful for?
Happy Thanksgiving! 

Thanksgiving Series: Pecan Pie Muffins

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I took the kids to the children's library for story time last week and the theme for the story time was turkey. The kids heard stories and sang songs all about turkeys and Thanksgiving. Afterwards, they always do crafts, they made this really cute pie with construction paper and attached came this recipe for pecan pie muffins and I knew that I had to make it!

1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted and cooled butter

Mix pecans, brown sugar and flour in a large bowl; make a well in the center and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat eggs just until foam appears. Stir in butter. Pour egg and butter mixture in to the the center of the other bowl; stir just until moistened. Spoon batter into paper lined muffin pan, filling about 2/3 of muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden. Let it cool. Serves 9.

Here's an idea for you to give a little gift to your guests if you're hosting a Thanksgiving dinner. 
Simply wrap the pecan pie muffins and as your guests are about to leave, give them the sweet little treat as a "thank you" for coming to dinner.

And this ends our Thanksgiving series, I hope you've a lovely day
with family and friends!

Thanksgiving Series: Recipe Ideas for Turkey

Cooking a whole turkey can be challenging and time consuming, the recipe ideas below are a perfect way to cook and serve turkey for thanksgiving, the best part is that it can be done in about 1 hour or so and serves up to 8 people. That's pretty doable and easy, right? Take a look:

Picture of Talking Turkey: Rachael Ray’s Herb Roasted Turkey Breast with Pan Gravy

Cherry-Chipotle Turkey Breast

I'm looking forward to an easy and light Thanksgiving meal with my family. 
Here's a menu idea for you:
Herb Roasted Turkey Breast or Cherry-Chipotle Turkey Breast
Pumpkin Custard

And how about you? 
What are you planning to cook this Thanksgiving for your family?

Thanksgiving Series: Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How about ditching the traditional heavy mashed potatoes for these full of flavor roasted rosemary potatoes? Super easy and delish! Take a look:

Recipe by Sweet Caroline

2 lbs. red potatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil

Put the potatoes in a medium pot with cold water and a dash of salt, bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and drain really well. Put the potatoes in a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, add the fresh chopped rosemary and season with salt. Toss the potatoes really well. Bake at 450 degrees pre-heated oven for about 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are golden and tender. Serve hot and enjoy!

Thanksgiving Series: Orange Scented Green Beans

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I love green bean casserole but this year I wanted to change things a little bit, so instead of going with an traditional dish, I've decided to do a light green bean dish. Even though it's light still packed with flavor and I can guarantee you'll love it too! Take a look:

Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray

Ingredients (8 servings):
2 lbs. green beans, trimmed
Peel of 1 orange
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 white onion, diced
Salt and black pepper

Fill a pan with 2 inches water, add the orange peel and bring to a simmer. Add green beans and let cook for about 5-6 minutes, beans should remain bright green with a snap to them. Drain beans. Using the same pan, add the butter and diced onion, sauté onions until translucent. Add beans and toss, season with salt and pepper. Serve hot. Enjoy!

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